Going to Great Lengths for Love
"The First Seven Years" Analysis
In William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" the two main characters go to great lengths for love. The main characters reject their parents strong disapproval for their relationship and continue to be with one another. Like Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" Feld, the main character, in Bernard Malamud's "The First Seven Years", ignores and later resents the fact that Sobel, his employee, is in love with his only daughter, Mariam. Feld believes that Mariam deserves a boy who is well educated and financially stable. Even though Sobel has little formal education or wealth, he still offers what he does have to Mariam, his soul. Throughout "The First Seven Years" Malamud exhibits many literary devices such as symbolism, setting, and epiphany in order set up a well rounded theme for the reader. That a parents desires for his child is not necessarily what the child desires or needs.
In this short story, Malamud uses symbolism to exhibit the depth of Sobel's love for Mariam. During the prelude of the story Feld is annoyed by Sobel's "fanatic pounding at the other bench"(893). The continuous pounding of Sobel's hammer symbolizes the strength of Sobel's love for Mariam. For years Sobel silently exhibits his love by working hard at a very low salary. As Sobel is "pounding with all his might upon the naked last" (895) he shows his frustration for his plight. Not only will he not be a suitable husband in Feld's eyes, Feld never even recognizes the bond being established by the couple through their books. Later in the story Feld admits his awareness of Sobel's feelings, but does not want to face the prospect that Sobel might become Mariam's suitor. The hammer symbolizes the frustration that Sobel feels, being unable to...